WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr will be heading into the ring in less than 24 hours to face Mandatory challenger Mark Magsayo in his sixth title defence on Saturday night at the Borgata Casino, Hotel & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
However, Russell Jr has been criticised for his long layoffs which has only seen him defend the WBC title five times since winning the belt in 2015. Russell Jr plans to change that this year and believes that, for the first time in his title reign, he is capable of fighting three times in a calendar year.
Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs) isn’t a pushover, though not as skilled as Russell. The Filipino can punch which was very evident in his impressive knockout victory over Julio Ceja. That could be a big problem for Russell, who admitted he has an injury and struggled on the scale during weigh in.
Russell didn’t only want to fight three times this year, he also want to fight prominent names and that includes two of the biggest names in Boxing. Gervonta Davis and Vasily Lomachenko, whom he plans to repay for his WBO featherweight Championship 12 round majority decision loss back in 2014.
“If I could make two fights that I would want to happen,” Russell said, “I’d want Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and I would want Lomachenko.”
The present issues with Russell’s aspirations remains the fact that Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) and Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) have long left the Featherweight division and both compete two weight classes above Russell’s. However, 10 pound difference isn’t so much to make for fight. Davis has registered his territory at 135 and has even gone on to compete at 140 pounds.
Russell had some issues on Friday night while trying to make weight for the fight, which could be a signal for a possible move to 130 pounds and to make the fights possible. Russell has also said, he is will to make a move up to 135 pounds.
Lomachenko has somehow maintained his spot in Boxing’s Pound 4 Pound Rankings, winning world titles in three divisions, a feet that Davis has also arguably filled. Russell has since his loss to the Ukrainian, expressed interest in facing him ones more but hasn’t been able to strike a deal with Bob Arum Lomachenko’s Promoter. Gervonta Davis on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have Russell in his list.
“I mean, to be honest with you, I never overlook anybody, you know,” Russell said in reference to his upcoming fight with Magsayo. “Of course I would want the [Davis] fight. You know, but as a man, I’m focusing on Mark. You know, Mark is the one that is willing to step into the ring and worked his way up the rankings to challenge me for my world title. Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, he’s not in a rush. Or maybe Floyd Mayweather [Davis’ promoter], Leonard Ellerbe, none of them guys, are not in a rush of putting him in the ring with me. You know, I’d rather focus on a true warrior, a true gladiator, someone that’s willing to put it all on the line and bring their physical best. That’s Mark.”
Gary Russell Jr meets Mark Magsayo in the main event of a Showtime televised triple header in few hours time and the event begins at exactly 9pm ET.
Russell Jr Vs Magsayo Press Conference Photos